Attract: Summer Placements

With increasing competition in the energy graduate market, how can students gain experience and potentially secure a graduate position? Our latest Thought Leadership piece looks at summer placements.

Attract: Summer Placements

The energy sector represents a broad and varied industry; one that is critical to our everyday lives. Whether your interest is in STEM or non-STEM subjects, the industry can cater for just about anyone. The energy sector continues to experience rapid change and this can offer exciting prospects for the most highly skilled and qualified engineers, scientists and technicians along with opportunities for non-engineering roles in support services such as managers, accountants, HR, IS, procurement etc.

The sector offers various entry routes for people with different backgrounds:
• Work experience for high school students;
• Apprenticeships;
• Summer placements for undergraduate/postgraduate students;
• Year in industry programmes
• Graduate schemes.

In reality only around 14% of people who apply get onto a graduate scheme. However, a recent survey asked 1500 graduates and found out that only 24 % knew exactly what they wanted to do. For the rest of them, the top 2 ways for finding a role after graduation is via personal networks or LinkedIn/Social media.

The most effective method for building a network and a relationship with an organisation is through summer placements. Although obtaining a placement can be difficult, it is a foot-in-the-door opportunity that can help secure a graduate place in the future.
With the high percentage of students not knowing exactly what they want to do, summer placements provide work experience, an opportunity to get a foot in the door of a company, the chance to develop and use skills learned in university and the chance to build your professional network.

Most energy companies are promoting their summer placement opportunities in various different ways. From the standard information leaflets in careers centres at universities, university days, competitions to widespread coverage on social media (typically Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn).

Why does summer experience matter?

According to the UK Graduate Careers Survey 2014, 41% of finalists from the ‘Class of 2014’ had done an internship or other vacation work with a graduate employer whilst at university, the fourth consecutive year that participation in work experience has risen – only 26% of final year students who graduated in 2010 had completed internships or work placements.

A record 43% of this year’s finalists made job applications to graduate employers almost a year before graduation – applying for graduate vacancies in September or October at the beginning of their final year at university. A total of 62% of finalists had made graduate job applications by March 2015.

PowerHouse 2030 also surveyed the energy sector and found that 73% of those surveyed had entered the energy industry through internships, apprenticeships, graduate schemes and summer placements.

Both of these surveys confirm the hypothesis that summer placements are a very common way to kick start your career. In the energy industry, most graduate roles are filled by people who have previous work experience in the sector. This might be an Insight day, a project they were working on, an internship or a summer placement. This proves the importance of the need to be proactive and look for opportunities early on in your student life.